Illegal residents living in Qatar have been given a grace period of three months to leave the Middle East Gulf State without having legal consequences prior to the introduction of the changes taking place in the labor laws within the country.
This grace period is Qatar’s first in over a decade, according to reports from local news. The country’s Ministry of the Interior announced last this week that residents who are illegal could report to the department of Search and Followup from Sept 1 to December 1 in order to arrange their leaving of the nation.
Expatriates currently are not allowed to work in Qatar unless they have a visa and can switch jobs or leave the country only with their employer’s approval.
Many of the illegal residents in the country are domestic workers who have stolen from employers.
However, amendments to the kafala sponsorship in Qatar will mean that permission for exiting the country or changing jobs would be needed instead to come from the government.
These changes, which should take effect December 14, have been received with a mixed reception since announced.
Human rights groups, which have criticized heavily the kafala system, said they are unable to ensure workers’ rights.
In Qatar, the construction sector specifically was found to have a form of slavery, which reflects on the demand for inexpensive labor to build the 2022 FIFA World Cup infrastructure and the National Vision 2030 of the country.
A study found that most construction workers were low, semi or unskilled and could be exploited easier during the process of recruitment.
The study said many workers had been trapped within a debt cycle for one due to the high interest rates on recruitment loans and the lower than promised salaries presented to them upon arriving in the U.S.
The group carrying out the study said that despite significant international pressure, construction workers reform from being treated such as slaves was a huge undertaking.
The group suggested that despite some forms of reform to the kafala systems at the country in 2015 that they were not in practices of including regulation governing entry then exit from the country.